The TSA Sucks


If some total stranger walked up to you in the street and said “I am either going to see you naked or touch your genitals”, What would be the likelihood of that person walking away from that encounter?  Robert Colella

Blaming everyone but the TSA, former Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley says that the agency’s approach to airport security is not effective in stopping terrorism.

“After 9/11, we moved so fast to protect ourselves against further attack that we put in place security measures that were stronger.  But in the 10 years since, al-Qaida has proved to be an adaptive enemy. They simply take the defenses that they see and work around them to try something else. The problem at TSA is that each brick that’s been put up has been put up in a wall and stays there even after the vulnerabilities they address have been closed.”

 Rafi Sela   former head of security for the Ben Gurion Airport, the world’s safest airport, offers her assessment of the TSA and America’s airport security.

Go Figure!  For some reason a bunch of people in snappy uniforms patting down crotches is  remarkably unpopular. Nobody likes going through security at the airport, but  you probably figured most of it had a point. All those hours spent in line with  other shoeless travelers are a necessary precursor to safe flying. It’s  annoying, but at least it wards off terrorism.

Wrong!  The TSA couldn’t protect you from a 6-year-old with a  water balloon.  The biggest issue  –  the TSA is a regulatory agency and a security agency. They  essentially make their own rules. No one else — not the FBI, not the CIA, gets to do that.

I call the TSA the biggest train system in the world, because it’s common for  much of the floor force to be replaced on a yearly basis. So if the TSA only  drills once or twice a year, you’ve got a ton of screeners who go their entire  (short) careers without ever being tested.  People need to realize that security  can’t be treated like a fast food company. These people are tasked with finding  bombs, not flipping burgers

Remember those full-body scanners that leaked naked pictures of random citizens all over the  Internet?  Ever wonder how they got approved in the first place?  POLITICS and MONEY.

Blame Michael Chertoff, former secretary of Homeland Security and head of the  Chertoff Group, which in 2010 represented a little company named Rapiscan, a company that just happened to making full-body scanners.  Chertoff stood in  front of Congress (his friends and former co-workers) and explained that these  scanners were the future of security (“and,” he neglected to add, “the  future of ME getting very, very rich). Congress, with no security credentials decided Chertoff was an honorable man and went along with everything he said.

Of course, after a little while it came out that these scanners were useless.  I could strap a bomb capable of taking down a 747 to my body and walk right  through a body scanner. Nobody would catch me. I’d rather not explain exactly  how, but a German man  was able to sneak a fake bomb through the  same scanners without being caught. And he did it in Germany, a country where  “airport security officer” isn’t a synonym for “failed Walmart cashier.”

About 99.9% of travelers are just that – travelers who pose no threat to anyone.  The few terrorists that exist are like needles in a haystack so the TSA’s approach is to check every single piece of pay in case it might actually be a needle.

Security needs to be done due to risk — and risk means that in Israel we  don’t check luggage, we check people. And I’m not talking about racial profiling;  that’s a product of poor training.  Regardless of race or creed, people  with bombs strapped to their body behave in similar ways. The TSA claims that finding IEDs at the checkpoint is their number one goal.  But,  it’s the people who mean us harm that we should look out for. Instead of  checking intent, they check luggage.

And they don’t even do it well: I have orthopedic insoles in my shoes made  from composite material, that looks identical to plastic explosives.  I put them on the belt every time, and no one — NO ONE —  ever questions my shoes. Some security experts suspect that the TSA has never once caught  a terrorist at a checkpoint. And we know that at least 16 of them have flown into U.S. airports since 2004.

Meanwhile, Israel’s airport security actually has stopped a bomb from getting on a plane using Israeli  screening techniques. And what were those techniques?

We make eye contact and  watch the way you move your eyes. People with something to hide or a bad conscience will look away quickly.  We interview every single customer several times watching their behavior.  Terrorism is a  pretty nerve-wracking thing. That shoe bomber in 2001 failed because he literally sweated through his bomb. Obviously, looking out  for anxiety is going to net you some false positives. Lots of people just hate  flying. But it’s easy to weed them out from the men planning to commit mass  murder.

At Ben Gurion Airport, we get travelers from their car to their gate in 25  minutes. When was the last time that happened to you in an American airport?  Probably never, because a dozen 747s worth of cranky travelers can’t take their  shoes and coats off, pull their laptops out of their luggage, and queue up for  pat downs without chaos.

The TSA conveniently packs hundreds of travelers together in cramped security  lines. Terrorists love crowds because they can inflict the most harm that way.  Anyone who watches the news knows that. So what does American airport security  do? It gathers folks together in long lines BEFORE they’ve been scanned at all.

You can read Robert Evans and Rafi Sela’s article “7 Reasons The TSA Sucks” at the link provided above.


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